Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Finales Disorient and Disappoint

Last night's House season finale was rather underwhelming, much like the majority of Season 3. By the end of the episode, all three of the House-ettes had either resigned or been fired for reasons that remain underdeveloped, and the Patient of the Week's illness was quickly resolved with little explanation or mystery. A heart defect? That's it? Remember when this show used to have House doing autopsies on living children and unearthing shocking affairs via diagnoses of African sleeping sickness?

There's little suspense surrounding the fate of Cameron, Chase, and Foreman, considering that the actors who play them have not quit the show. The only tension is around how the writers will contrive to bring them back to the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital at the start of season 4. Let's hope that come Septemberish, House will return to form with shocking, provocative cases, a little more heat (House and Cuddy, anyone?), and fewer plot arcs featuring men as hell-bent on destroying Dr. Greg as cartoon villains.

Lost's finale already has been much-discussed across the blogscape (I prefer this term to blogosphere) so I will just say this: now that's how a show maintains fan interest during the off-season. I have no idea how showrunners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof plan to continue the show, given the shocking nature of the finale's few minutes. Any commenters care to weigh in with their predictions?

Finally, take a gander at David Remnick's take on the end of The Sopranos. He says it better than I could, which is one of many reasons why I am not running The New Yorker.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust...

In case you were wondering, at the end of last week, I made the decision to take my THe View spring collector's mug and place it on my desk to serve as the best pen holder ever.

On Wednesday, I made sure that Elisabeth's face was facing away from me...and that I I could only see Rosie and Joy smiling back at me with Warhol-esque vibrancy.

Today, I couldn't even look at the mug anymore.

It's been real, Ro. I'll catch you on the flip side.

To attempt to make sense of this senseless tragedy for just a's not that Elisabeth isn't entitled to hold her's just that she is under thirty and lacks the skill and charisma of her View co-hosts, and therefore comes across as more like the weakest link on a high school Model UN team.

And if you're like me and have Wednesday's episode DVRd for the repeat viewing, please check out Alicia Silverstone's snub of Elisabeth. It is better television than the M*A*S*H and Seinfeld series finales combined.

Cue Madonna's This Used to Be My Playground.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


So i have been promising my dear, co-blogger Alanna for a while now to do an Upfront Week recap. This turned out to be more daunting a task than you would think since I had a lot on my work place plate. Seriously...some people expect you to do shit for your paycheck. I decided to instead break down this Rushmore of a blog into daily increments, entitled WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?! in which I inform you of the biggest mistake made by each network with their Fall 2008 schedule. Clearly being negative is tons more entertaining. Let's start with CBS...

Looking at all the shows on their radar, CBS was clearly on a quest to find a companion piece for GHOST WHISPERER, aka JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT DOES MORE THAN SHOW US HER TATAS IN HANES COMMERICALS.

Months back, I was convinced Moonves had a winner with BABYLON FIELDS, written by Gerald Cuesta, the helmer behind L.I.E. . BF explores what happens in Babylon, Long Island when the dead come back to life. The pilot focuses on the Wunch family, a mother and daughter who murdered their abusive husband/father and also lost a daughter/sister years ago. ZOINKS!

Scripts are usually very superficial reads for me...40 something pages I thumb through with a phone in one hand and a Campbell's Soup-At-Hand in the other (give me free soup). BABYLON FIELDS, however, kept me up at night.

Watching the pilot only reaffirmed my pussy-ness. It is so well executed, and to my Long Island native's delight, actually shot in Baldwin, Long Island, allowing for a non-Hollywood view of my precious subarbs. Amber Tamblyn wont the Lawn Guyland Accent contest over Ray Stevenson, who sounded like he might still prefer a cup of tea over a Big Gulp (give me a free big gulp). However, acting was overall great.

So what did CBS do instead of picking up this stroke of genius? They went with MOONLIGHT, about a vampire investigator fighting forces of evil. Never thought I would see the day where I don't like a vampire show, but GAG ME.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

ANTM/Lost Recap

I have decided that henceforth, when there are two shows to blog about on the same night, I will write a recap in the style of the old New Yorker film reviews: that is, attempt to link two very different shows in one piece, using a lot of B.S. about their respective themes, which I will make up.

Since the dawn of television, serial dramas have used the deaths of main characters to bolster ratings, generate discussion, and attract attention. This has become so common and familiar a practice that TV writers seem to believe that they have to kill off at least one protagonist a season, like a sacrifice to the Nielsen gods. Competitive reality television has adopted the same process, but to an even greater degree: each week, someone is ritualistically sent home, their exile from the competition a stand-in for death.

Last night was the finale of Cycle 8 of America's Next Top Model, and the penultimate episode of Lost's third season. Both episodes made promises to their audiences, and one was kept and one broken. Each ANTM guarantees a loss, often made predictable through clunky editing. On Lost, the spectre of Charlie's death has been growing with each week, as Desmond repeatedly sees flashes promising a grisly end for the former hobbit. Desmond saves him each time, but has said himself that eventually Charlie has to die, that he won't be able to prevent it.

Last night was a Charlie flashback, and that alone could be hazardous to one's health. When Desmond told Charlie that he envisioned him flipping a switch, then drowning, which somehow enabled the rescue of Claire and Aaron, it became clear that after much promise, Charlie would leave Craphole Island for good. However, a series of random flashbacks highligting Charlie's "greatest hits" - the best moments of his life - and some poignant moments with Claire and Hurley led to Charlie swimming down to the Looking Glass Station to discover the station was not flooded. "I'm alive!" he shouted, and summoned several attractive women with guns. Fin. Huh.

I will extrapolate that perhaps Charlie's death was not as simple as a flip and drown, and Desmond did not want to tell him the gruesome extent of it, because that would prevent Charlie from following through with his final heroic moment. But if the Lost writers really want to prolong Charlie's demise for another episode - and by now he HAS to die, according to Chekhov's rule - there better be a damn good reason for it.

Meanwhile, ANTM's finale featured two deaths, as two models were sent home for being - well, what exactly? Renee and Natasha are clearly not inferior to Jaslene, who, like Kate on Lost, seems capable of making only one facial expression. (And, not to be catty, but she looks like a performer at Lucky Cheng's.) I find comfort in the fact that the ANTM winner, like the sole survivor of a plane crash, is treated with suspicion by the real world. Typically, the runners-up find much greater modeling success once they've left TV Land. Hopefully, Dominic Monaghan, who plays Charlie, will do the same. While I've never liked his character, he is one of the stronger actors on the show. Maybe he can branch out from his magical creature / magical island oeuvre.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lost Rumormongering

I try to avoid spoilers for my favorite shows. The word itself reveals why: the very nature of spoilers is to totally fuck up your potential enjoyment of an episode's various twists and turns. But the Internets are such that it is incredibly easy, and tempting, to spoil oneself. I like visiting Dark UFO for its intense dorkifications, like screengrabs of the mysterious Jacob from last week's Lost, but it also has a spoiler page that I find myself increasingly compelled to click on. I like to read Aint It Cool News's little teasers for episodes, but mostly because the ensuing insane fanboy talkbacks are hilarious. Alas, some dude named Lostfan108 (OK, buddy) posted spoilers all over the most recent talkback, several of which I glimpsed from between my fingers (yeah, I like to read websites half-blind.)

I understand how infuriating it can be to get spoiled without your consent. I once had a LiveJournal buddy who put a post behind a cut that read "I just found out I was adopted." Eager to get my Schadenfreude on by reading about someone else's family's dysfunctionality, I clicked the link. Behind which he had written "SNAPE KILLS DUMBLEDORE" in caps like a million times. Now that called for an INSTANT DE-FRIENDING!

All this is to say, I'd love to hear some predictions for the last two episodes of this season of Lost, but that entails some airing of rumors and a confirmed spoiler or two. Caveat lector!

Qs for commenters, should you exist (and ideally will speculate on these q's, rather than answer definitively):

1) Which five characters will die?
2) Does Locke's Bad Dad count as one of the five?
3) What makes Jack's upcoming flashback so "dark"? Personally, I am hoping that the darkness means Jack commits suicide in flashback, and, to quote Douglas Adams, promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
4) Is Locke dead?
5) Who is the returning cast member? Is he/she there to stay?
6) Will Eyeliner Guy make an appearance? He's hot.
7) Any other predictions?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

HBO Whitewashes "Wounded Knee"

The trailers for HBO's upcoming film "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," based on the nonfiction book by Dee Brown that became a bestseller in the 1970s, make it look quite promising. But according to an article in the NY Times, there will be inaccuracies aplenty in this made-for-TV interpretation.

The book, which I haven't read, is apparently an anecdotal retelling of the persecution of the Sioux in the late 19th century, focusing entirely on the American Indians' perspective. The movie, on the other hand, greatly enlarges the role of a half-Sioux, half-white character, sticking him in places where he never went, and giving him a fictional, white love interest. The film's creators are doing this because they believe today's white audiences won't watch a Wounded Knee adaptation unless there are some palefaces for them to latch onto.

Quoth the Times:

“Everyone felt very strongly that we needed a white character or a part-white, part-Indian character to carry a contemporary white audience through this project,” Daniel Giat, the writer who adapted the book for HBO Films, told a group of television writers earlier this year.

This doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Considering that this book was a blockbuster hit to audiences THIRTY YEARS AGO, what makes the HBO folks think that viewers can't handle an all-American Indian cast today?

I'm fine with some tweaking of history if it's for discernible aesthetic or entertainment value. HBO did just this with Deadwood and Rome to great effect. But the idea that the story needs to be whitewashed to get good ratings just doesn't sit well with me.

Another perspective, from the article again:

Nicolas Proctor, Mr. Brown’s grandson and one of three people who oversees his estate, as well as an associate professor of history at Simpson College in Iowa, said that as a historian he was “always kind of shocked that history is not moving enough, is not evocative enough and rich enough to keep people from having to get in there and start monkeying around with it.”

What do you think, commenters? Was this a necessary move on HBO's part?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

What's a girl to do (since Rosie's leaving The View)?

In light of last week's tragic news that Rosie will be leaving The View next month, I did the only think that I knew would make me feel even a little bit better...I purchased the commemorative The View mug in its spring design, featuring a Rushmore-esque representation of Rosie, Barbara, Joy and Elizabeth. Total cost with shipping was $22.50.

It has arrived, but I need your help. Do I:

1) Clearly never use this mug because it is a collector's item that will (and should) be passed down from generation to generation?

2) Use this mug for its intended purpose: drinking delightfully warm beverages that also warm my soul, just like watching some 'Hot Topics' does?

3) Use this mug as a decorative pen holder on my desk, where I will get to look at it more often since I very rarely make warm beverages at home?

And by the by, my vote for Rosie's replacement EASILY is Whoopi Goldberg. While Sherri Shepard did have some hilarious co-hosting stints earlier in the season, Whoopi is the solid voice that that table needs.

Leadership on Lost Island

Lost has ended it's "meh" streak and gotten hot as of late, building towards what I suspect will be a bloody Mexican stand-off between The Others and The Survivors. Last night's episode was equal parts exciting and worrisome. For example: Original Recipe Sawyer was identified and killed like the irredeemable jerkface he was. HOWEVER, James Ford Sawyer has now resolved his unfinished business, which on television means it's time to die. Hopefully ABC knows a good, hot thing when they have it and will keep JFS around.

Another example: Ben promises to teach Locke the history of Craphole Island (which I really hope doesn't involve a boring lecture on the ramifications of the Industrial Revolution in the South Pacific.) HOWEVER, this probably means one, minor question will be answered so that 10 new ones popping up in its place.

But what really nags at me lately is the issue of leadership on the island. The Lost creators are decidedly retro in their choices of Premiers of Craphole Island. (Yes, I think of them as premiers rather than say, governors. They are close to Australia, after all.) Jack seems to have been replaced by a sullen, secretive doppelganger with a penchant for overly-Botoxed women, so who will take his place? The only likely replacements are all... menfolk.

Locke is frolicking in the jungle. For some reason, despite clearly being the smartest person on the island, people overlook Sayid. A few weeks ago, Hurley suggested to Sawyer that he step up. Desmond also has an authoritative air about him, sort of like my co-blogger Jeanette. Perhaps Desmond and Jeanette should co-teach a class on the drinking habits of the Scotch-Irish. But I'm getting off track here. Why are the women of Lost never once considered, by the writers or the characters, for possible leadership roles?

Every time Kate gains some valuable knowledge, she immediately runs and tells Jack in an increasingly pathetic bid for approval. We've seen through Sun's flashbacks that despite a pampered background, she could be quite formidable when called upon. Yet she remains mostly in a traditional submissive role. The other women aren't even worthy of consideration: whiny Claire with her "BAY-BAY!", the absent Rose... is there anyone else? Oh, that's right: the strong, powerful women from last season (Ana Lucia and Libby) were killed off.

Get with the times, Lost. In a post-Buffy television landscape, it wouldn't hurt to put all those big strong men on the back burner and let a lady run the show for a while. I can see it now: Kate and Juliet, as representatives of their groups, creating a peace treaty over gossip about how Natasha from Top Model is totally a mail order bride.